Monday, 22 August 2011


A really bright creative called Scott Leonard said to me last week – “let’s not talk about social media let’s talk about how unsocial old media used to be”.

To be sure letters to the Times and Any Answers were about as interactive as it used to be and I recall sitting irritably in a Greek Harbour waiting for the ferry to arrive with the Sunday Times. I’d have killed to have got the last copy. To read it, by myself, like a news addict.

Although now Mr Murdoch seems have finally proved how anti-social old media could be.
But why can’t I get more worked up by Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin?

I think it’s to do with their content.

Most of the stuff on them barely raises itself above the level of “OMG don’t you hate Sundays. Groan!”

And imagining you can sell stuff on Facebook seems naïve. It’s a place to chat not to do transactions and having big brother brands next you pretending to be cool is absurd.

But as the riots and the Arab Spring have shown, social media is an efficient way of managing the expectations and movements of crowds.

When it comes to ideas, though, something else is needed – Dave Trott provides that in his blogs with  genuine “I hadn’t thought about it – whatever it is – quite like that” insights. Ken Robinson and Matt Ridley do it on TED.

And TED and its mission to spread interesting ideas that seems to change our world.

It’s when you can pick away at and disagree with someone that something interesting happens.
What is happening, I imagine to the distaste of most politicians, is a lot more people are starting to think and the old fashioned art of conversation has started to be revived.

I like neither the word “social” nor the word “media” very much – if only we could describe the phenomenon as “community conversations” I might be less grumpy.

Because that is really interesting – the idea of groups of people spreading ideas and thinking about stuff that really matters.

The megaphone is redundant. Welcome back the village pump and the oral tradition. Welcome back storytelling.

Welcome back discussion.


Anonymous said...

I think you can sell stuff on Facebook. You certainly should be able to! for a business a well managed Facebook profile is home to a bunch of engaged, interested consumers and business contacts who have chosen to keep in touch with you and follow what you're up to.

The sales process is different though - subtle and informational, not broadcast and brutal. Simply saying "We thought you'd like to know that we have xyz product/service about to launch/back in stock" will often be enough to encourage some of your audience to embark on a purchasing journey.

In this way Facebook represents the very best of selling, a careful matching of your products with the needs of an audience you (should) know lots about. In fact a lot like the village pump!

Ian Wilson said...

I came across this article in Management Today, which concerns the bind that fashion retailer "TopMan" finds itself in. You might enjoy it - I thought it was a neat example of the double-edged sword that is social media (as well as, it seems to me, a case of bad judgement on someone's part in TopMan Towers - if only they'd replaced "Girlfriend" with "Bitch"!)